A while ago, I wrote a post about how I lost my “groove” in the wake of a failed business, and how I was determined to get it back. I’m still in that trench, getting there piece by piece, with an amazing career.
I’m pretty excited because a new book proposal is about
80% 75% 50% done, and I’m more passionate about this subject and the premise than I’ve been about a personal platform and idea in a long time.
I wanted to write another book as soon as 2012, but all of the stuff detailed in that post derailed that. HARD. So here I am, finally, several years later thumping along on my keyboard with vigor and bloodshot eyes once again (ah, writing). Better late than never, right?
The truth is this process has brought into sharp relief one of the consequences of:
- poor or naive decisions
- being overly influenced by others
- my own battles with imposter syndrome
If you aren’t familiar, imposter syndrome is the idea that no matter your success or achievements — professionally or personally — you believe that at any moment someone is going to call you out and “expose” your true nature, which is that you’re not qualified, not capable, and not nearly as experienced or valuable as you’ve somehow managed to convince the world that you are.
Most of us have been there. The internet and social media make it worse. Exponentially.
At the moment, here’s how it looks for me.
I’m writing this proposal for a book that I’m truly excited about. I believe in the idea. I believe in my ability to convey the idea. Then I get to the part of the proposal where I have to talk about my “platform” and my network and my ability to bring this book to market…and I kind of want to barf.
(that’s the super hyper-professional term for the feeling I had)
At one point in 2011 or so, I had nearly 20,000 subscribers to my blog and emails. I was speaking two, three, six times a month, keynoting huge events with nice five-figure fees, riding the wave of a relatively successful book in the industry and feeling pretty okay about my prospects.
Then I fell victim to one, singular concept that I will forever regret.
I convinced myself that I had to be something different than I was because who and what I was wasn’t enough.
I believed it so blindly that I thought I could never be successful if I wasn’t the alpha-male marketer-turned-analyst-turned-forever-speaker-author-type.
And I froze.
I more or less abandoned my writing. I slowed my speaking way down for all the wrong reasons. I withdrew from social networks and the communities I’d worked so hard to build.
Add to that influences in my world that reassured me that no really I was awesome…but the people that were definitively successful (including me) had it all wrong anyway and that my success was built on quicksand and that I’d better figure something else out before it all went away because all of that was really bullshit.
So I tried to do something “legit”. And I failed.
Mostly because what I was doing and what I was good at was perfectly legitimate to begin with.
And here I am, starting from…not scratch. Not zero. But definitely not where I would have been had I not had that three-year crisis of confidence to begin with.
That’s hard to face.
Reality is, no one owns it but me. I made the choices. I own the decisions. When I could have stood in my own self and owned taking up space in the world, I shrank. I let myself be shrunk. I listened to the critics and the insecure and the desperate. I let them influence me, convince me…and I acted. I acted by doing nothing at all and letting a lot of people and opportunities and relationships pass me by.
I have but two true regrets in the world. One is too personal still to write down and from many, many years ago.
The other is how much I gave up when I hit a crossroads and I didn’t believe in myself enough to seek support, push through, and keep driving ahead.
Fear? Disbelief? Imposter syndrome? Laziness? Apathy? Burnout?
Maybe a bit of all of them thrown together with a good side of personal distraction and life’s usual twists and turns.
But as I sit here with my book proposal in front of me, ripping it apart until it bleeds sentence fragments into the ether of the delete key, I wonder.
How do you make up for missed opportunity?
The answer for me today is simple. You don’t.
There’s no rewind button on life, and regret doesn’t move me forward. I own it. It hurts. I don’t like it. So the only way to change it is to change it now, today, with the fire that’s been buried in me for the last few years. And oh, how it has missed the challenge.
I know this has been an incredibly self-centered ramble, but it’s for a reason.
I hope you never, ever equate missed opportunity with futility in your quest.
I have a lot left to contribute and create. Even with the things I messed up and missed in the middle and the people I regretfully left behind. So do you. Whatever your hiccup was, whatever that voice is whispering to you about not being worthy or enough, whatever you see other people posting to their hyper-filtered Instagram feeds and their Facebook streams, whatever relationships you’ve messed up and whatever missteps you’ve made.
You’re still here.
Until your pulse quits and your lungs cease and your brain fires its last spark, there’s always more to the story.